Tel Aviv council, MKs clash on Shabbat buses (JERUSALEM POST) By NIV ELIS 02/28/12)
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Proponents of allowing public transportation on Shabbat argue are
framing the issue as good public policy, and not a clash between
religious and secular.
Speaking at the Knesset Economic Committee hearing on public
transportation on Shabbat Tel Aviv Municipal Council member Tamar
Zandberg (Meretz) said allowing buses to operate on Saturdays would
help reduce energy usage and air pollution while providing an
important service to the 40 percent of Tel Aviv residents who don´t
own a car.
"The central issue isn´t religion versus the status quo," she
said. "The question is whether these people will be stuck in their
The Tel Aviv Municipal Council approved a resolution last Monday to
request permission to operate public transport on Shabbat from the
Transportation Ministry, which in turn indicated it would deny the
Currently Tel Aviv residents without cars must rely on either
shared "sherut" taxis running along three established bus lines or
take private cabs to travel long distances on Shabbat.
The state already authorizes buses servicing hospitals on Shabbat,
Zandberg said. Given that a majority of Tel Aviv residents, not to
mention the 10% who are not Jewish, supports public transport on
Shabbat, the government should oblige.
Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz went so far as to argue that religious Jews
have an interest in allowing public transportation to operate on
Shabbat. Adding buses would reduce overall traffic on the holy day,
benefiting religious people concerned about maintaining a Shabbat
"From your point of view, you should be interested in having public
transportation on Shabbat," he told MK Uri Orbach (Habayit
Hayehudi), "because it reduces traffic."
Orbach scoffed, saying policies that ignore the needs of religious
Jews pushed them out of the city and encouraged ghettoizeation. "I
now understand why Tel Aviv is such a secular city," he said. To be
truly inclusive, he continued, Tel Aviv "should cut down the public
transport on Shabbat."
Arguments about good public policy could not disguise the underlying
culture wars between religious and secular. "I am not forcing you to
go on the public transport," Horowitz said, "but you can´t force me
to stay at home."
Yet committee chairman Carmel Shama (Likud) did his best to keep the
murky idea of shared national interest in everyone´s focus, closing
the meeting with a reminder that "Shabbat belongs not just to the
religious, not just to the secular, but to the entire Jewish nation."
(© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 02/28/12)
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